The University of Southampton opening up its data

The University of Southampton have just launched their Open Data Home site, providing open access to some of the University’s administrative data.

The Open Data Home site provides a number of RDF data sets from teaching room features to on campus bus-stops, a range of apps showing how the University itself is using the data, and their own SPARQL endpoint to query the data. As well as links to presentations from linked data luminaries Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt, the site also contains a really useful FAQ section. This question in particular is one I’m sure lots of institutions will be asking, and what a great answer.

“Aren’t you worried about the legal and social risks of publishing your data?
No, we are not worried. We will consider carefully the implications of what we are publishing and manage our risk accordingly. We have no intention of breaking the UK Data Protection Act or other laws. Much of what we publish is going to be data which was already available to the public, but just not as machine-readable data. There are risks involved, but as a university — it’s our role to try exciting new things!”

Let’s hope we see many more Universities following this example in the very near future.

5 thoughts on “The University of Southampton opening up its data

  1. What I really wanted to write in the FAQ was:

    “They used to say if man could fly, he’d have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that we didn’t invent writing, or that we hadn’t invented computers or the wb? That’s like saying that you wished that you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut like your great-great-great-great-grandfather used to. [insert name here] is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any technology as fantastically advanced as this. But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great. Risk … risk is our business. That’s what this University is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

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